Becoming Employee Owned: Celebrating Our People

4 May 2021

In May 2021 we became an employee-owned practice. This 3-year journey in the making is a celebration of our multidisciplinary team who have been instrumental to our growth, and is a commitment to the next phase in our business’s development and success. Our successes stem from our personnel; and their rich knowledge that defines our practice. We give back and invest in our people via training programmes and have a committed and motivated leadership team to ensure high levels of engagement.

Here, we reflect on Purcell’s culture that has been built on 70 years of operation, and celebrate our collaborative approach across the regions; from Melbourne to Norwich, and Hong Kong to Oxford.

Becoming an employee-owned business will super charge the collaborative and positive culture we already have at Purcell. This next step in our evolution is a celebratory reminder of the excellence of our technical, support and operation teams, and how we are a resilient organisation that puts our clients and people first.

— Alex Holton, Associate and Chair of the Purcell Employee-Ownership Trust

Purcell Voice

For 5 years, the Purcell Voice (our Employee Forum) has changed the face of communication across Purcell; and is a powerful tool which enhances our shared purpose and vision. From drawing dialogues with Directors, to technical and administration teams, its launch has enhanced the voice of our employees for both long-term and short-term decisions.

The Voice is formed from a group of colleagues, and has created a sense of co-ownership while further aligning Purcell’s values, insight and culture.

Becoming employee-owned means that we’ll increasingly bring together ‘voices’ to ensure that all our people across the business can contribute to its future, and continue to share in our success. This will also strengthen performance, provide a clear and shared purpose, and collaborative ways of working, while preserving Purcell’s culture orchestrated from 70 years of operation.

Purcell Voice has provided a conduit for communication around policies, and has had a great impact on employees’ day-to-day life. Both The Board and employees have found this process of discussion really beneficial and engaging, and as we transition to EO, it will give employees the ability to shape and influence the future of the business as owners

— Craig Woods, Senior Architectural Technologist and Purcell Voice Co-Chair

Employee-owned Trust

On the 1st of May, we will move the ownership of the business to Purcell’s Trust who will hold ownership for, and behalf of all current, and future, employees in the business. Newly appointed Chair, Liz Smith and Purcell’s Board, will work with the Chair of Purcell EO Trustees, Alex Holton, with Emma Bryant, Ewa Lenart, Lucy Burke-Smith and Tom Brigden as Trustees. Our talented and multidisciplinary Trustees will work with The Voice to increase engagement, transparency, and communicate employee-ownership benefits.

Purcell’s employees play such an important role in Purcell’s architectural achievements, reputation and success that an employee-owned structure is the next logical step for Purcell. As a new Trustee, I am looking forward to the increased sense of ownership, engagement and responsibility for our practice that employee-ownership will bring. Purcell has become an outstanding place to work and this is the next step in continuing the trend.

— Alasdair Jones, Associate

Learning and Development

As part of our Collective Ambition, we ensure that our conservation, design and restoration skills that our multidisciplinary team have are passed on across the practice.

We do this by holding external and internal CPDs, mentoring and training. Employee-ownership will increase this important ethos Purcell has had from its beginning by strengthening knowledge sharing across all roles and departments.

Led by Head of Architecture, Liz Smith, we have a conservation school where teams come together to join lectures and seminars ranging from topics as diverse as how to assess a building's historic significance through to a practical demonstration of hot lime.

We have a design programme where Architects and Designers from across the studios come together to draw and debate over key themes in architectural discourse. The annual Purcell Day Out brings our studios together to celebrate the successes of the year. As an employee-owned practice, this collaborative ethos will only be strengthened.

At Purcell we are extremely passionate about knowledge sharing and our commitment to leadership and development will enable us to enhance technical excellence and to continue to develop inspirational leaders. We are excited about the opportunity that EO brings as we look to embed learnings across the practice, in particular the role that technology has played more recently in allowing all of our regions to work closer together.

By being able to share best practice globally, more diverse voices and experiences can be heard, which is reflective of the collaborative environment we are building.

— Associate and Head of People, Charlotte Nelmes